BRISTOL - About 300 people left Bristol Eastern High School better prepared for retirement than when they arrived Saturday.
The fourth annual CT Prime Time Senior Fair saw its largest turnout yet, with 20 vendors providing information on personal finances, housing, health care and other topics of interest to seniors.
“We had 25 percent more people than last year,” Central Connecticut Communications Publisher Michael Schroeder said. “We’ll do it bigger and better next year.”
Local companies took the opportunity to highlight the roles they play in the community, from Bristol Hearing Aids to Shady Oaks Assisted Living.
“I view my role here as helping people learn,” said Tyson Belanger, Shady Oaks owner and executive director of the retirement community.
He educated visitors on the Veterans Aid & Attendance pension, a benefit for veterans and their surviving spouses that helps defray the cost of home care and assisted living.
“Not very many people know about it,” Belanger explained. “It feels great to be here and help people understand the assistance available to them and that they deserve.”
In the last year alone, he has helped 19 Shady Oaks residents apply for and get VA pensions.
Sheriden Woods and Countryside Manor, skilled nursing facilities run by Athena Health Care Systems, also had staff at the fair discussing living options.
“We’ve seen people today who have stayed at our facilities or know people at our facilities,” Krysty Woodin said. “We’ve had a lot of questions asked.”
Some visitors inquired about rates and the number of available beds, while others scheduled tours of senior living communities.
Esther Corcoran, regional program director for the Alzheimer’s Association’s North Central Region, heard from people whose loved ones are living with dementia.
“Our mission is education and awareness,” she said. “Most of what we do we don’t charge people for and they need to know that.”
With a location in Southington, the Alzheimer’s Association is an internationally recognized non-profit organization that provides care and support to peoplke living with the disease and their families. It is also a leader in research for treatment and a cure.
Bristol resident Rob Anderson and his girlfriend, Beverly Grunwald, took home bags of free items.
“This was the best,” said Grunwald, 82. “I liked all the extra stuff they gave us. Plus it’s nice being with people my age.”
Anderson said that the knowledge gained through conversations with health experts was most valuable to him.
“You’re never too old to learn,” he added.
The couple enjoyed complimentary sandwiches while others had coffee and bagels from Fancy Bagels. Anderson and Grunwald sat at the same table as Nancy Kuehn, also from Bristol.
“I really enjoyed this today; it was very informative,” Kuehn said of her experience. “I found out about in-home care available if something happens to me.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097, @schmittnbh or firstname.lastname@example.org.